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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: The Time Has Come
By Anita Neuman


The time had come. On the path ahead of me, my son hiked, oblivious to the macabre events he would face that very day. He carried his heavy pack with ease, belying the long day’s journey. I admired his youthful vitality. He was on the verge of manhood, yet still a child in so many ways. I studied his form, savouring every detail with pride. This boy was destined for greatness. Bile rose in my throat and I spit it on the side of the trail. I straightened and looked ahead once more. The time had come.

“Wait up, Son,” I called, forcing some levity into my voice. “Your old man’s ready for a rest.”

He looked back at me, startled that I had fallen behind. He had probably been absorbed in the all-consuming task of hunting for interesting bugs and small critters. Do boys ever outgrow that fascination?

“Are you okay, Dad?” the boy asked as he approached.

“It’s been a long day, and it’s not over yet,” I answered, leaving much unsaid.

We dropped our packs in the dust and settled on the sparse grass. Our meal of dry bread, vegetables and warm water was scant, but still too much for my appetite. I swallowed enough mouthfuls to give me strength and willed the food to stay put.

We sat in silence, taking in the view. The camp where we’d left the rest of our group was barely visible in the distance, the smoke from their fire drifting up in a thin column, unhindered by any trace of wind. The sun hung high in the sky, daring us to survive. Silence surrounded us – no twitter of birdsong, no rustling of leaves, no animal movement in the brush. Just the silence of doom tormenting me, wringing my stomach, sucking away my next breath.

“Are you ready to go now, Dad?”

“Not just yet.” I pulled my legs around so I could face him directly. “God’s teaching me some things, Son, and now’s the time for me to tell you about it.” I stopped. How could I put this into words? How would I ever put it into action?


“God is teaching me about obedience.”

“Obedience? But you’ve always obeyed God. What more is there for you to learn?”

I exhaled, searching desperately for the words. “Everything God has asked me to do up to this point has been relatively easy. But obeying when it’s easy isn’t true obedience. That doesn’t bring me into a deeper relationship with the Lord, and it brings no great glory to Him. Obeying when it’s hard, when it costs you everything, is true obedience. That’s what I’m determined to do.”

“What are you talking about? What’s going to cost you everything?”

The innocence in his eyes, in his voice, broke my heart. My vision blurred and I had to look away. “Oh, my son. Do you know how much I love you?”

He gripped my hand. Such a gesture on my part would have earned me an embarrassed shrug a week ago. Today that simple touch showed his increasing maturity – and it compounded the fathomless depths of my pain. “You are the son of my old age, promised to me by God Almighty. God has other promises to fulfill through you, but first He has asked me to prove where my allegiance lies.” My voice broke and I could no longer contain my sobs. “Isaac, my dear child, God has asked me to give you back to Him.”

His eyes grew wide in sudden understanding. “The sacrifice. We didn’t bring a lamb. Dad, are you saying…?”

“Yes,” I choked out. “God wants me to offer you to Him. I don’t understand how, but I know He’s going to give you back to me. I must obey, no matter how hard.”

Before my eyes, my boy became a man. Still holding my hand, he stood and pulled me to my feet. His arms wrapped around my waist and held fast. I clutched his head to my chest and prayed that the moment would never have to end.

At long last, Isaac stepped away and lifted his pack to his shoulder. “I want to obey, too, Dad. God will provide. Let’s go. The time has come.”

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This article has been read 1253 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/27/06
You made the story very real. Well done!
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Oh, beautiful:tears in my eyes as I write. A really unusual way of telling this story, and I loved that it stopped when it did. Now I've read it I can't imagine it happening any other way...
Debbie OConnor04/27/06
A powerful retelling, you brought the story close and made it personal. I loved the descriptive detail.
Maxx .04/27/06
The story of Isaac is about my favorite in the Bible. God will provide a Lamb to be offerred up in my place... This piece captured a lot of emotion and made it very real. Very good! Two little picks in my mind. The first is that the relationship seemed very casual. Since it was an actual retelling, not made contemporary or anything, I struggled with that. The second nit pick ... you used the following line: "Do boys ever outgrow that fascination?" A logical question. But the speaker was a boy who'd obviously outgrown the fascination so the answer is obviously "yes". When I read it my immediate thought was that the author is female ... a better question to capture a male's perspective might have been "When did I lose that fascination?" So, two minor things in an otherwise brilliant story. Thanks!
Melanie Kerr 04/28/06
Very good. You kept me guessing about the identity of the father and son. I did think it might be Jesus and Joseph going to Jerusalem, but then you started to talk about sacrifice. I like the "keep them guessing" thing.
Purity Snowe04/29/06
God will provide. Can't say more then that. Excellent writing!
Suzanne R04/29/06
This story has always brought tears to my eyes, and your re-telling of it did too.

The way that Isaac took his father's hand, and thus reflected his increasing maturity, was touching.

Well done.
Jean Elizabeth 04/30/06
A wonderful look into the hearts of Abraham and Isaac. You made this familiar story come alive in a new way. Very good!
Jan Ackerson 05/01/06
The sentence that really grabbed me: "Before my eyes, my boy became a man." A real "lump in the throat" moment for me. Beautiful writing here.
Pat Guy 05/01/06
I liked the subtle alluding - '...no animal movement in the brush.' Brilliant!

This is one of my favorites too and I love to imagine this scenario in different ways. I hadn't thought of this one - good insight!


Lynda Lee Schab 05/02/06
Brilliant writing! I love biblical fiction and retelling and this one was no exception. You've captured some of the emotion that Isaac must have felt on that day. I can't even imagine! shudder. Excellent, masterful work.